Sometimes, you don’t have to go very far to have a nice hike. We live in one of the biggest metropolis cities in Canada. Busy streets, loud sirens- an altogether concrete jungle. And nestled in the middle of it all is Montreal’s own Mount Royal. Loosely named a mountain, but at under 300 meters at its highest point- it’s really just a hill. Nevertheless, Mount Royal is 692 acres and sports a small man-made lake, ski hills in the winter, cross country skiing paths, and of course the notorious Tam Tam’s in the summertime.
November is not a popular month for hiking. Most people are beginning their hibernation for the winter, and are accepting their fate of the gym and Jillian Michael’s DVDs being their only way source of exercise for the next 4 months. I have to disagree however; I think hiking in the cold is the most ideal time to go! With the right equipment, you can have a great time hiking in the winter. And especially if you need to work off those extra few pounds from the Holidays, hiking in the cold burns twice the amount of calories! You just need the right footwear in case of snow, and it’s important to dress warm! See the following article for more details on how to dress appropriately for winter hiking.
Anyhow, we explored through several small trails on Mount Royal- none of which are named or marked, but are usually well worn so we always knew where we were going. Mount Royal is the type of park that it’s very hard to get lost in. Even if you don’t see a trail or a person for a few minutes, you just need to keep walking and you’ll end up on a gravel path. There are several old buildings on the mountain from the late 1800s- early 1900s. Some of which were set up when they had installed the funicular railway going up to the viewpoint.
A hike like this is not meant to be exerting or difficult in the least bit, making it the perfect place for trail running. The trails are soft and clear, and almost always lead to a water fountain of some sort. If you’re not interested in running but just want to explore, or if you’re with kids, dogs or family- then a leisurely walk is perfect for the trails. It’s better to get off the gravel paths as Mount Royal can get a bit crowded- and if you’re anything like me, you might want some peace and quiet while trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Of course the lake is a hot spot for Mount Royal. If you only have one day, you must see the main viewpoint and Beaver Lake. In the Spring, Summer, or Fall, It’s a beautiful shining lake with a gravel pathway running along it. In the winter it’s a huge skating rink! And the small hill behind is used for sledding and crazy carpeting. You can take the bus up to the top of the mountain from Mount Royal metro station, or you can drive along Camilien Houde Street and park at the Beaver Lake parking lot. From there you can walk to the viewpoint in roughly 10 minutes, or just stay at the lake for a BBQ or picnic. Keep in mind that on Mount Royal, drinking a bottle of wine or some beers is totally legal- ONLY if you have a picnic with you. That means meal type food, not just a candy bar and some chips.
We can spend the whole day there, or sometimes just a few minutes and no matter what, we always come back feeling rejuvenated. It’s not as calming as sitting on your back porch in the country looking over a lake, but it’s as close as we can get while living in the city! Either way, it’s worth the trip every single time.
Nutmeg November 16th, 2013